The present study is a work of contemporary history. It describes and analyzes the personalities, events, and broader social and political trends that have helped to reconcile Poland's interests in Europe with its desire to retain the close friendship of the United States. It considers Poland's role in European and world affairs between 1979 and 2007, with a special focus on political events that have taken place between 2003 and 2007. In both of these periods, Poland was a driving force behind changes occurring in Europe. From 1979-1989 Poland's aspirations to independence were a signal for other Eastern European nations to begin a similar process. For the next 14 years, Poland conducted a strongly pro-American and pro-Western policy. Thanks to correspondingly strong support from the United States, Poland became a NATO member and a strong, democratic European state. Subsequent events, including the decisions to send Polish troops to Iraq and to accept some parts of America's missile-defense shield in Poland have been viewed negatively by some European NATO states. The result has been a gradual change in Poland's attitude towards the CFSP/ESDP, and increasingly active Polish participation in European policies.